Mothers Day saw the second round of Aqueduct Classics 2016 series offer a great day’s competition to the 70 riders who braved the changeable conditions at Plas Onn (Selattyn). It was great to see that 23 of these were Pre 65 bikes with over half campaigning in the 50/50 route. A further 20 bikes were twin shocks with the Clubman route being the most popular (7 bikes). As always the Air Cooled Mono class was well represented with a good support class of Modern Monos enjoying a Championship league of their own.
This months event report is kindly contributed to by Paul Owen, Geoff Jones and Rob Sloggett
Paul Owen – 50/50 class (Pre-65)
It was a cold fresh morning on the hillside looking down the Ceiriog valley, but once I got going I soon warmed up.
Section 1,2 and 3 were going up the stream, section 1 was straight forward on the green (50/50) route, dropping into the stream and across a greasy leafy bank then back into the stream to the exit gate.
Section 2 and 3 were very similar, starting in the steam there was a rocky step that you had to get right and then around a tree, across the water to a steep slippery bank then a sudden drop back into the water and then around a few rocks to the exit gates.
Section 4 was on a grassy bank and around two trees that looked easy but you couldn't really touch the front brake on the downhill stretch. It was then a ride across a few fields to the far end of the land to section 5 and 6. Starting off in the stream you had a rocky section between some trees, across the bank, then back into the stream and a steep incline up a greasy muddy exit, my rigid bantam was perfect for those condition.
Section 6 was similar to 5 but had a challenging 2nd half to it with rocks and roots, if you messed up the first lot of rocks you would be all arms and legs up to the exit gate. You then started to make your way back to the start with a stop in each field to experience the rocky gullies.
Section 7 saw the greens doing the same route as the expert red class, dropping into a left hand turn and up what seemed like the Grand Canyon, but after watching a few riders fail trying to pick their way around the big rocks I decided to hit it straight on and just hope for the best. It looked daunting but was a proper grin factor when I cleaned it twice and only had 2 single dabs.
Section 8 was in the next field and a similar start dropping into the stream and weaving my way on and off the muddy bank, back across the stream to a steep turn and up another rock path to the exit gate.
Section 9 and 10 were very similar with a crossing from bank to bank across the stream then a short steep rocky incline to the exit gate. Every section was challenging but nothing dangerous, another cracking trials held by the club, roll on round 3! .
Geoff Jones – Observer
Despite it being a snow threatened Mothers Day the second round Aqueduct Classic 2016 series attracted 71 riders in all, high up in the Welsh Hills at Plas Onn farm. Again the sections were set to accommodate a slightly snow covered landscape, which made for a very wet and slippery going. Luckily the terrain allowed for all sections to be more or less run in the stream which flowed through the venue, which avoided the near impossible going elsewhere and protecting the land owner’s fields.
Section 9 was set for the four routes, White (beginners), Yellow (clubman), Green (50/50) and Red (Elite).
White route more or less followed the stream bank with a water splash to cross to the opposite side where the end gate was situated, accessed by a climb out of the steam and a sharp slippery right turn to the end flag.
Yellow followed a similar course but ridden within the stream, which had the pitfalls of rolling rocks and deep pools hidden by the now muddied waters, again the end gate was accessed by a climb out of the stream with a sharper right turn to the gate, surprisingly more than a couple of riders who had cleaned the main part of the section, fell foul of the degree of offset to the end cards and missed the exit.
Green took a similar course to the Red, starting off through a water splash exiting on the opposite bank to execute a sharp right rocky turn, back into the stream with a sharp climb out and around a tree stump to dive back into the stream again, to access the end gate. Again this took one or two fives from the unwary, having cleaned the section cresting the bank and missing the sharp offset exit to the end gate!
Red obviously being the more demanding again set off through the first water splash, with a steep climb out up a rocky muddy bank to crest onto a bordering field, which although quite flat was deceptively slippery and in itself took one or two marks, with competitors losing too much momentum due to lack of grip. After a 180 deg turn the bank was descended to the second water splash with the same sharp climb out around the same tree stump that greens were using, but after dropping sharply back into the water the sting in the tail for the reds was a sharp right turn to climb a rocky waterfall In a narrow gulley, with an immediate left turn out of the section to the offset exit.
The sections in general we're flowing but technical, with nothing to cause a stop under the slippery conditions, but never the less designed to take marks.
Rob Sloggett – Elite Class (Modern Mono)
With both of my classic bikes under the weather and having some well-deserved TLC, my aim of stepping up to Elite class on a Modern Mono this year to allow me to experience the depth of the new challenge but on a bike I felt comfortable tackling them on came into play. I was so please with the challenges laid out by Aqueduct at this level. Everything was safe but challenging and enough new variety to make me drop some fives and re-engage my brain to watch the experienced Experts on their lines.
A couple of sections really jumped out. Section 1 was an absolute gem as you entered high up a bank and dropped down perpendicular to the stream bed. The aim was to then fire it straight up the opposite bank and then a left turn on a camber around a tree whilst scrubbing off momentum. The rest of the section was straight forward but this steep drop in and equal climb out was a length and gradient uncomfortable to me. First attempt, I bottled the drop in taking a more gradual drop down the bank, almost traversing it at a diagonal. This resulted in me getting on the power at an angle with the rear wheel inevitably spinning out resulting in a very graceful five. Second lap, feeling more comfortable on the bike and looking at the lines taken, I approach high, dropped straight down and allowed the momentum plus a squirt of the throttle to fire me straight up the bank. A single dab around the tree on the 3 remaining laps left me feeling that I had improved in one area but still had something to learn regarding this type of obstacle.
Section 6 was another great section for the Elite route with a muddy entry leading to an across gully routing, a large loop on the left hand bank then traversing back across the gully over a selection of rocks and roots to enter the second parallel gully. This then offered a 20 second challenge taking an S shaped path around or over a number of sizeable rocks until you exited up a shallow right hand bank. The range of scores across all classes of bike on the Elite route shows how the team setting up the sections found the best use of the land to ensure there was something for everyone but nothing to put anyone off or put them in harm’s way.
As always, we have to pass on our appreciation and thanks to the club officials, observers, catering team and land owner. The next completion is on Sunday 3rd April at Pen Y Graig Quarry.
Pre 65 Elite: Ben Butterworth, Ariel (2); Russ Jones, Francis Barnett (25); Steve Thompson, BSA (26)
Pre 65 50/50: David Beddoes, BSA (4); Phil Alderman, Triumph (5); Carl Winstanley, James (9)
Pre 65 Clubman: Roger Smith, BSA (2); Terry Lloyd, Tiger Cub (7); Graham Miller, Tiger Cub (8)
Pre 65 Beginners: Andrew Huxley, BSA (27)
Twinshock Elite: Danny Littlehales, Fantic (8); Alan Miles, Chase TY (18); Steve Shelley, Honda TLR (24)
Twinshock 50/50: Philip Clarkson (9); Alex Barrie, Honda (15); Ian Emery, Ossa (18)
Twinshock Clubman: John Sowden, Bultaco (7); Karl Kavanagh, Fantic (10); Phil Cottiga, Fantic (13)
Twinshock Beginners: Pete Thomas, Yamaha (17)
AC Mono Elite: Craig Howarth, Scorpa (51)
AC Mono 50/50: Stephen Richards, Yamaha (8); Gordon Wilson, Honda (21); Paul Cartwright, Beta (57)
AC Mono Clubman: Andy Steele, Yamaha (24); Mike Sutton, Ossa (26); Steven Blaxall, Fantic (27)
Modern Mono Elite: Rob Sloggett, Beta (68)
Modern Mono 50/50: Alec Roberts, Gas Gas (9); Liam Marsden (40)
Modern Mono Clubman: Bob Shelley, Gas Gas (8), P Hempkins, Beta (10); Ken Williams, Montesa (12)
Modern Mono Beginners: Andrew Dean, Gas Gas (7); Glyn Evans, Beta (10); Pete Rainsford, Montesa (21)